Lyrix Organix: From the ground up
Struggling to find enough excitement at gigs, the poet went out and created it himself.
Rob and I (Dave) are very excited about Tuesday’s Excursions show. Amid all the usual anticipation of embracing the unknown, this time we're armed with the knowledge that Lyrix Organix, a collective of MCs and spoken word artists, are joining us to throw it down with the band. Main man Dan Tsu talks us through what it means to nurture a group of like-minded humans.
Sum up Lyrix Organix please, Dan
Lyrix Organix is about exploring the roots of hip-hop. I keep that definition purposely broad. It goes from spoken word, which has a direct lineage to rap, to folk music, which expresses the same themes and ethos. It’s a large net, which gives us lots of scope to explore and experiment. So we work with spoken word artists like Dean Atta and Maxwell Golden, and that line bleeds into straight hip-hop with rappers like Jehst. And we’ve worked with beatboxer Shlomo, pairing him up with Ed Sheeran and Abandoman. It’s important to break boundaries.
How did Lyrix Organix come about?
It was started as a way to excite myself. There’s an energy I need from shows – they need to be unique, compelling, groundbreaking and challenging. This excites me more than anything else in the world. I’d go to lots of grassroots gigs where you had four performers who lacked any kind of charisma and clearly hadn't thought about the thing as a show. People want to be entertained. I wanted to make it as exciting and different as possible – and it all evolved as I gained the confidence to pursue these crazy ideas.
What do you get out of all this? Wouldn’t it be easier to focus on performing your own stuff?
The reward is being able to work with like-minded and talented people, who are all generous and just really nice, and to watch them flourish too. I’m not really into the money side or the ambition – I turned down a thing at Wembley Arena because it didn’t really excite me. The things that matter are still, how to put it? Just real.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from setting up your own creative vehicle?
There’s a feeling and energy when you’re finally in the right place – where things you’ve been learning all your life for no reason suddenly make sense. For me it was the hours I spent taping and mixing bits of pirate radio together, and going to gigs. They had no consequence at the time, but then these things all started converging. Suddenly I found myself saying: ‘I can do everything I want: I can get all these people together, I can get live painting going with some beatboxing and folk music. And I can do it well.’ And doing the shitty 9-5 helps me have the organization behind the finances, as well as the vision in the programming to pull it off.
Isn’t it scary though, following your own path without the safety net of an existing scene?
It was less fear starting out, more blind naivety. The lesson is to trust your instincts. If you’ve done enough research over your whole life – and research here could simply mean following those disparate tastes to the point where they converge – then that’s your best instinct, it’s what brought you to this point. It’s cool to be able to dictate your own path. It’s a blank canvas, which is really as much as anyone can ask for. The only constraint on our ideas, really, is us.